28 Jun 2013

Benefit fraud recidivist not so "squeaky clean"

A church-going mother who ran a cleaning business called Squeaky Clean while claiming benefits has been ordered to do 140 hours of community service. (h/t Dave)

Sharon Coyle was also given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 27 June.

As well as receiving an income, the 44-year-old had been living with her partner, who was in full-time work, despite telling the council she was living alone.

Coyle by no means kept her successful business quiet, as she posted adverts in local shops, restaurants, the library and on website Netmums.

She even created business cards and advertised all types of cleaning, including carpet and curtains, ironing, windows and deep cleaning, with cleaning materials provided as part of the service.

One review on Netmums said she charged £10 an hour.

Coyle also bragged about her business’s successes on Facebook, which was used as evidence by the prosecution.

She had pleaded guilty to six counts of housing and council tax benefit fraud totalling £9,480 from 1 July 2010 to 5 June 2011.

This was not the first time Coyle had committed fraud. In February 2010 she was cautioned after admitting she had failed to declare a partner was living at her address.

Her latest fraud came to light following an anonymous tip-off.

During a search of her home, Coyle said to police: “If I just plead guilty can you go now?”

Evidence uncovered included business cards and a contacts book that contained a list of 58 names, thought to be her clients.

At her interview with investigators, she said she had attended church since she was a child.

The council is in the process of recovering the benefit overpayment.

Councillor Dudley Mead, deputy leader of the council, said:
This fraud was made worse by the fact Coyle pretended to be a trusted member of the community by providing a cleaning service, when in reality she had her hand in the public purse. People like her will not get away with it, and we’ll always seek the highest punishment in the courts and ensure the hard-working taxpayer is reimbursed.

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